There are many things organizations can do to maximize the likelihood of success with respect to the expatriation process of their employees. Palmer and Varner’s (2005) research suggested that employers work in partnership with their employees and train them effectively. Their findings suggested that employers can do so in four stages: (a) a pre-screening phase to assess whether the employee meets the qualifications and support of their family as a viable candidate for the assignment, (b) the self-discovery stage where employees train, identify, and study personal cultural awareness including the pros and cons, (c) the education and training stage to identify and study the visible and invisible culture (reasons) of the foreign country, including an analysis of their responses and acceptance levels, and (d) instruction, exploration, and implementation of strategies designed to help make the necessary changes and adaptations to adjust to the foreign culture (Palmer & Varner, 2005). The most important aspect of this model is that training is a significant component of the process.
Leaders are beginning to discover that the single point of failure in the expatriation process is the employee’s experience of the process. Hyder and Lovblad (2007) deduced that an individual’s success as an expatriate was contingent on whether they had a positive or negative experience. In addition, their research concluded that the experience was more favorable when the organization participated in both the expatriation and repatriation phases with the employee and their families (Hyder & Lovblad, 2007). For example, when employers devise systems and training programs to help both the executive and their family understand and help assist them in the relocation and acclamation process as well as when they return from the assignment, employees tend to experience a smoother transition making the experience more pleasant and manageable. In most cases, when organizations invest in the welfare of the employee and their families, the employee is likely to offer their loyalty and work hard for the organization. Employers that do not participate in this process risk losing a valuable employee as well as not having access to the information and experience that employee gained from the assignment. This is very significant component for multinational organizations that want an edge on the competitive global market.
One of the most important things an organization can do to prevent the employee from having a negative experience is become a partner with them in the expatriation process by first helping them identify their own organization’s culture and values as well as that of their home country. Dessler (2011) suggested that employers design training systems focused on cultural differences to bring awareness of the impact these variances have on business outcomes (Dessler, 2011). For example, an immigrant from France trying to establish a small business with limited education and ethnocentric views, may find it difficult to adjust to the norms of the US work schedule where shops do not shut down in mid-afternoon like they do in many of the EU countries. This aspect of doing business in a new country creates culture shock for those unfamiliar with the work schedules of that region. Employers and organizations can create a win-win situation in the expatriation process if they train and work in partnership with employees who are selected for international work assignments. A leader that shows they value their employees will most likely inspire staff members to perform at higher levels that are happy to offer the organization their loyalty and full commitment. With this strategy, organizations gain invaluable information from their expatriate employees and also benefit from having an edge on the global marketplace from the results of these successful experiences.
Dessler, G. (2011). A framework for human resource management (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Hyder, A., & Lovblad, M. (2007, January). The repatriation process – a realistic approach. Career Develop International. Bradford, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing, Limited. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13620430710745890
Palmer, T., & Varner, I. (2005). Role of cultural self-knowledge in successful expatriation. Singapore Management Review. Singapore, Singapore: Singapore Institute of Management. Retrieved June 09, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/226851345?accountid=32521